You’ve got your grocery list in one hand, a hand sanitizer in the other, a face mask over your nose and mouth, and your grocery bag by your elbow. You’re all set, and about to go out the door. Wait! Did you even notice him standing still a few feet from you, staring with a puzzled and anxious expression?
Sometimes, your anxiety can get the better of you. In your shock over a looming virus outbreak, you focused too much on you and forgot all about your pet’s needs. They, too, have been affected by the pandemic and require a re-calibration. Here are essential reminders on caring for your pets during the pandemic.
Changes in your routine and lifestyle affect your pet. Your dog or cat is fully aware that you’re often out of the house by 8:00 in the morning. When they start seeing you in the house the whole day, every day, they get disoriented. They don’t mind it; they love to have you around. But you wouldn’t want them going through separation anxiety when all these are over, and you’re back to your 9-5 job.
To keep them grounded, continue the schedule that’s familiar to them. Mealtimes, walk times, and sleep times should be regular. If you can’t walk them outside, do it inside or within your yard—at the same hours. You can also develop new indoor routines to give structure to their daily life.
Sourcing food for your pets during the pandemic can be tricky because of the production and distribution setbacks in retail stores. Stock up on pet food for up to two months if you can. However, if their preferred food isn’t available, consult your vet if you can feed them new or wet food. Wet food provides the moisture they need to avoid urinary or kidney problems, but it can be expensive.
While you give them dry food that contains healthy ingredients for nutritional balance, provide them with enough water as well for hydration, especially during this warm season. If you have to give wet food, choose the homemade options, which are healthier, well-portioned, and come in tasty flavors.
And one more thing. You might tend to stress-eat these days; don’t overfeed your pets, too. Obese animals are prone to health problems. You don’t want to have to move across the country with your pet to find an open veterinary clinic for emergency treatment—not when a microbe is out there lurking.
Hygiene and Safety
Pets won’t likely contract COVID-19, but good hygiene is still a plus. You can wash your pet’s paws after a walk with baby shampoo and water. Don’t apply or spray disinfectants; alcohol and other chemicals can irritate their skin. If their paws get irritated, use coconut oil. Bathe your dog once a month or when they start to smell. Clean their collars and tags, too. Practice social distancing with your pets as you do yourself, and avoid being in public places with them in tow.
Don’t miss your pet’s vaccine schedules and consultation, even during the lockdown. Vaccines strengthen their immunity against infection and contagious diseases. If you don’t want to risk traveling far, you can call a home vet service to make sure your pet’s checkups are up-to-date.
You wear a face mask, you wash your hands regularly, and you carry a hand sanitizer around. You’ve always been careful, but you never know when COVID-19 might strike. So, prepare a contingency plan for the furry one should you test positive for coronavirus or feel similar symptoms of the disease. Have your pet’s vaccine records and documents for special care needs ready and easily accessible. Make sure your pet wears their collar ID tag that has the vet’s number or yours—or a friend’s number if you’re in the hospital.
Identify a guardian for when you’re indisposed. Make sure the anointed person knows everything about your pet, including their daily routine, food, supplements, medicines (if any), and the vet’s direct line.
Quarantine yourself from your pet if you plan to isolate within the house—no cuddling, petting, or kissing for now. If your symptoms are severe, it’s better to go to a hospital for proper diagnosis and treatment. When you leave, act like you’re just making a quick jog and coming back soon. Make sure your dog or cat’s guardian is someone you can trust and very responsible.
With COVID-19 taking us by surprise, it’s easy to get caught up in global and local stressors and forgetting that we have a furry friend depending on us. But they, too, are confused. Help them cope with the situation just like you do.